For many dog owners, dog food delivery services might sound like something out of an SNL sketch about “entitled millennials” feeding their “fur-babies.” What's the problem with just heading down to the local grocery store for a bag of ordinary dog food? And why should we stress about providing well balanced and nutritious meals for our canine companions when they seem unable to discern the difference between the taste of a quinoa salad from the taste of their own rear ends?
The market speaks for itself, though. And if the numbers show anything to be true, it’s that the dog food delivery service industry is booming. In fact, dog owners from all over the world are starting to employ the online purchase of dog food and meal kit products more and more every year.
This trend is even present in emerging economies, where changing attitudes towards pets are also driving the industry forward, according to Technavio’s 2018 Global Pet Food Market report.
Why is it that people are starting to buy more and more dog food online instead of at local stores? There are several reasons for this at play, but they can be summed up in two major factors: convenience and humanization.
The desire for convenience is a result of how significantly the internet has altered the way we currently buy and pay for things–a quick look at how popular online stores like Amazon, Etsy, and Wish are is enough to see that. This rapid acceleration of online sales can be largely attributed to millennials, who are now an incredibly powerful force in the market. Their influence is moving retailers towards e-commerce faster than ever before, while also motivating older generations to enter the digital landscape.
The rising popularity of dog food delivery services mirrors the rising popularity of online meal kit delivery services for humans, an industry whose revenue is expected to grow over $10 billion by 2020.
The appeal is obvious, instead of having to do all the shopping and preparation associated with cooking for oneself or one's family, meal kit customers simply pay a subscription and have prepared ingredients delivered to them in the comfort and convenience of their own homes. And because these kits come with instructions and are pre portioned, would-be chefs may feel more confident to attempt recipes with a higher degree of complexity than they usually would.
Much the same mentality is at play when it comes to dog food delivery, though the emphasis shifts from culinary experimentation to health. These services can provide a level of balance, variety, and nutrition superior to what dog owners would get with the usual, store-bought fare.
This element of convenience also has to do with how easy it is to personalize a dog’s diet through online food purchases. Local stores are usually limited to a few popular, select brands, and even pet supermarkets can’t challenge the absolutely massive offering that online retailers have. So if the dog owner wants to go with standard food, online outlets give them access to just about every name and type of food they could want. Moreover, thanks to new alternative food choices, dog owners can make sure their pet’s diet meets their specific needs and goals. This custom-tailoring of dog food ties into the next big factor for the industry’s rapid growth.
Just like dog food itself has changed over the past few decades, so has the way we look at dogs in general. Whereas dogs merely used to be an extension of the family, today they are often considered an integral member of the family nucleus. It is common these days for dog owners to employ social calendars in order to plan out events like trips to the park or play-dates, or to buy specialty products for their dogs like elaborate toys or clothing. In fact, a Rover report shows that 29% of dog owners post more pictures of their dog than friends, family, or themselves on social media platforms. Even the name “dog owner” itself is beginning to see competition with the term “pet parent.”
This present-day case of humanization has, in turn, affected the way we look at our dogs’ food: What kinds of ingredients go into what we feed them? Are there certain types of food dogs should not consume? Can certain types of food help address specific health issues in the long run?
Many dog owners have found an answer to these concerns in homemade or raw foods, but these are not without controversy. The University of California, Davis found that many online DIY recipes were not written by board-certified veterinary nutritionists and lacked at least one or more essential nutrients. Raw food diets can work, but for many who aren’t sure how to execute them and still want the practicality of having food delivered, online dog food providers are their method of choice.
One thing that merits mention is that there are two types of dog food delivery services on the web: big online retailers, where you can buy from hundreds of brands, and meal kit providers that host a smaller number of specialized recipes. Because many people are now becoming more aware of what they are eating, it goes without saying that dog owners are also paying greater attention to what their dogs eat. Local stores won’t necessarily stock up on food that’s filler-free, or that includes ingredients with preventative benefits, something that many owners have started to concern themselves about. Some dog food delivery services also provide the added benefit of taking your dog’s breed and weight into consideration in order to recommend the best possible diet or recipe. So for many owners, the flexibility dog food delivery services provide is key.
Food is just one of many ways our relationship with our dogs has changed, but the move toward more thought-out dog food mirrors many changes in our own diets. As new trends come and go, different brands and types of dog food will enter the mainstream only to become niche again.
However, by looking at the numbers and understanding how big of an impact convenience and humanization have had on the industry, it’s a safe bet to expect dog food delivery to continue its growth. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge into dog food delivery services, why not take a look at our top ten picks?